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Mr. MEZVINSKY. Warren, would you care to comment on that in terms of answering that, to give a view of how the process is working? Then I will followup?
I think you should hear from the Department, since Mr. Hewitt has worked on this.
STATEMENT OF WARREN HEWITT, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF HUMAN RIGHTS, BUREAU FOR INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS, DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Mr. HEWITT. Those proposals that you mentioned were prepared in the State Department and we certainly support them very strongly 1 year later. It has been our policy to seek to implement them as rapidly as possible. I cannot say we have made extraordinarily progress but, for example, as concerns the 1503 procedures, the first item you mentioned, you have already heard how we did succeed in getting a full-scale discussion of cases under these procedures this time.
We have encouraged the consideration of evidence at an interim stage, which is another proposal we made for improving those procedures.
Another item that we wanted to make progress on was the scheduling of more frequent meetings of the Commission. This came up for detailed discussion at this session of the Commisson, when we went through an overall analysis of the whole human rights structure. The resolution that finally came out was the product of a number of compromises: The resolution reflected the points of view of not only ourselves but of governments whose interest in the Human Rights Commission is of a much different nature than ours. The most that we could secure on the point of more frequent sessions was an agreement that we should extend the session of the Commission by an extra week. It would now meet, if this is carried out, 6 weeks every year rather than 5. This is a small step forward.
In addition, we got agreement that we should plan for the holding of special sessions for particular work that needed to be done in between sessions.
We also got agreement that there should be some procedure set up to take care of emergency sessions. I think we have made notable progress in securing a more active schedule for the Human Rights Commission, as well as for its officers and special working groups throughout the year.
Mr. BONKER. Do you agree with Congressman Buchanan that there is a problem with communication between the State Department here and our official delegation in Geneva?
Mr. HEWITT. Yes; it is certainly a problem that is accentuated by the fact that we are so far away in Geneva. We do not have the technical problem of speedy communication when the meetings are in New York, because we have telephone communications at will. We always have to combat the time difference-6 hours difference-which puts us way ahead of the Department in getting instructions out in time for us to use them.
Congressman Buchanan's comment, I think, was partly commenting on the technical problems of communicating long distances and short
Also, the problem involves the identification of areas where there. should be more leeway given to the U.S. Representative to make up his own mind on the scene. I think that is a problem that bears examination. To what extent do you attribute to your Representative, not only on the Human Rights Commission, but in any meeting, the power and the trust even to make decisions on the spot which touch upon basic policy guidelines. For example, in the Iranian oil case, you have already heard the mixed considerations that went into that one, the final instruction to vote no.
But I do think it is an area that needs improvement. I do not know whether we will ever have the ideal situation.
Mr. MEZVINSKY. Ideally you would have the person be an independent expert, or be not a governmental official and classified as such. Then he could act accordingly. Then, of course, the decisions would be individual decisions, not governmental decisions. That is a problem with anybody, with any organ, namely the U.N. Human Rights Commission where you are acting for your government, because the government has certain policies and some of those policies may not be all human rights factors, there are other factors, and that is the conflict, I think, that sets in.
Mr. BONKER. At the last session of the Helsinki accords in Belgrade?
Mr. MEZVINSKY. Yes.
Mr. BONKER. Our official representative was a former member of the Supreme Court.
Mr. MEZVINSKY. Arthur Goldberg.
Mr. BONKER. Arthur Goldberg.
It seemed to me that he had discretion, at least he gave that impression, to act on a whole variety of issues relating to matters there. Mr. MEZVINSKY. Yes. I think you have to decide that there is some discretion, yes, and I think that was somewhat the case.
Mr. BONKER. No one is responding to Mr. Buchanan's suggestion of an ambassadorial rank. I do not know whether that is a sensitive subject within the State Department. Would that help?
Mr. MEZVINSKY. I think for the mere sake of rank, yes, but we should not make it out to be more than what it is.
I think the problem he raises is deeper than just rank. I think it goes to some fundamental policy considerations. It goes to tactics; it goes to communications.
So yes, I think that rank is a factor, but I do not think it is the overriding factor. I think the problem he raises, whether or not we are in total agreement, goes much deeper than just the ranking. In fact, his point on the rank is probably well made.
Mr. BONKER. One last question. You mentioned, on the agenda, that the Commission considered such things as the Torture Convention and Declaration of Religious Tolerance, and then confidential procedures as well. Was there official action or a vote taken on the first two?
Mr. MEZVINSKY. On the Declaration on Religious Tolerance there was a vote. There was a hesitancy to have any vote. They broke the so
called consensus rule and they had a vote and they voted up or down, and they voted in favor of three articles on the Declaration on Religious Intolerance, the first time it had ever been done. I think to us who have watched that issue for years before you and I were even on the scene looking at it, it was a significant breakthrough.
Mr. BONKER. That was adopted, this Declaration on Religious Tolerance?
Mr. MEZVINSKY. Three articles of the declaration. There are more articles than three.
Mr. BONKER. On Religious Tolerance?
Mr. MEZVINSKY. Yes.
Mr. BONKER. Could you submit to the subcommittee for our record the Declaration on Religious Tolerance 1 and the various items that are included therein, and the votes that occurred; also the one on the Torture Convention.2
Mr. MEZVINSKY. Right. We will be glad to supply it for the record. Mr. BONKER. It seems to me that you are proceeding on several tracks: One to move in more of a policy area, that is, Declaration on Religious Tolerance, something that is more definitive and has broad application, a guideline for future guidance, and also, through the confidential procedures, you are looking to individual countries and their violations and taking appropriate action on some of the violators. So you are looking at both policy and individual countries?
Mr. MEZVINSKY. We are looking at the international instruments, as such, the policy questions and then the implementation of national machinery. We have also tried to do-one step was to establish guidelines so that within each country there would be some national machinery. We have our Civil Rights Commission, we have our courts, we have our Congress. Within certain countries, there are no such mechanisms at all.
That process has started and I think those guidelines that have come out are, shall we say, positive? But I think the question we continually face as we espouse human rights in our countries, is that we have to realize that we have certain commitments we have to make here at home and one of the problems that we draft policy that I hope you can tell one, and hopefully we can at least ratify a genocide treaty, especially your colleagues, my former colleagues, whatever-that the defensive posture that we are put on regarding ratification is very difficult in view of the fact that we have gone through the holocaust, and all of the attention that has come out of that.
Mr. BONKER. You spoke with some feeling about the double standard issue and how our lack of ratification of some of these international accords is maybe a little embarrassing, as well as our treatment of Indians, and I imagine that raises an issue, but I really do not think that in recent years the Federal Government has defaulted on our commitment in that area. I probably represent more Indian tribes and reservations than any other area in the country. It is a difficult situation in terms of our financial commitment, through a whole variety of programs; the resources that they have to develop.
1 See appendix 1, p. 27. See appendix 4, p. 44.
It is more of a cultural, perhaps, identity crisis than one in which the Government is consciously discriminating against a segment of the population.
There was a time, of course, when that was the case, but I think in contemporary life that the Government has been very sympathetic and supportive and has fulfilled its commitment in a whole variety of ways through Federal programs to help that segment of a population. So I do not think we should be vulnerable on that charge. Of course, there are many others.
Mr. MEZVINSKY. When I had that testimony given, I cited the congressional act and the others. That is the reason why the Helsinki Commission, of which Congressman Fascell is the chairman, is going through and reviewing domestic implementation, which I think will be helpful, the same way that the Ford Foundation has funded a private effort specifically, not just in the case of the American Indians, but in the case of our complying with the Helsinki accords as well.
Mr. BONKER. I want to thank both of you for your appearance here today. You have been most helpful in our understanding of the Human Rights Commission's role, and I really think that next year, when we convene the 36th session, the chairman of this subcommittee and my colleagues will be able to attend and know firsthand the activities to support your efforts in the future.
Thank you very much.
The record will stay open for 5 additional days to receive further comment. The subcommittee stands adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 2:45 p.m. the subcommittee adjourned, to reconvene at the call of the Chair.]